Prior to the start of Super Bowl LI, and many Super Bowls before, oddsmakers put forth a pretty simple prop bet: will the visiting team call heads or tails?
It makes sense, right? Heads or tails? It represents a 50/50 chance and it’s a silly throwaway line on which some people might want to throw down a dollar or two, just for fun.
The New England Patriots are not a normal team, though, and their strict and consistent approach to the game of football ended up costing Vegas tens of thousands of dollars, according to this New York Times report.
Because calling the coin flip is not random for the New England Patriots. Captain Matthew Slater has made the same call for every coin toss for the past six years.
“I always call heads,” Slater said after the Super Bowl. “When my dad was a captain, he called heads his whole career. I always call heads, and there is a little bit of luck. There is a little bit of a family faith story there. But we go heads, the Slater’s call heads.”
“Heads or tails is up to me,” Slater added. “I have called heads for the last six years.”
The Patriots won the coin toss in overtime and QB Tom Brady took the ball and scored on an incredible drive, capping off the greatest comeback in NFL history.
“When I went to the coin toss, I said, ‘If Slate (WR Matthew Slater) gets this coin toss, we’re going to win the game,’” fellow captain Devin McCourty said. “You go against the guy [Brady] every day in practice. You see his competitive level. You see what he does day in and day out. You don’t doubt him in these games.”
“We just said to each other on defense, ‘We’re not going to back out there,’” EDGE Chris Long said about the overtime period. “Tom, he’s an assassin, man and he tears people’s hearts out. He just did it tonight.”
Brady completed five of six pass attempts for 50 yards, and added an extra 13 yards on a defensive pass interference call. RB James White added 12 yards and a rushing touchdown to end the game.
“We sat back and, literally, Matt [Patricia] is going over defense and we’re just like, ‘Matty P, we’re not going out there. There’s no way we’re going out there. Tom Brady is in a groove, he’s doing everything that we need him to do to win this game,’” FS Duron Harmon recalled. “And that’s what happens, man. He led that team down there that whole fourth quarter man. That’s Tom Brady’s quarter. Tom Brady Quarter – that’s what we’re going to call it from now on.”
And while the fourth quarter might be the Tom Brady Quarter, Slater’s in charge of the quarter the officials toss, and his prediction of heads allowed the Patriots to receive the ball and win the game.